9.23.16 Issue #759 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Paperless Practices Are More Profitable and HIPAA Compliant
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

How many times have you heard this: “We can’t locate (patient name)’s chart. It’s probably misfiled or on the doctor’s desk somewhere.”

During business staff training, I ask attendees if their office is “chartless”. About 70% of the time the answer is yes. When asked whether the practice is “paperless” only 5% says yes. Here are some of the reasons I hear:

We like our health history form and it is easier for the patient to fill it out on paper than on a tablet. 
It takes too much time to do it electronically in the office. 
Our patients are older and don’t like the tablet or pad so we don’t offer it to anyone.
We like to write personal notes on our statements so we print and stuff them.
We have a problem with attachments for claims and would rather print and mail them.
We like to print out the route slips for each patient because it has so much information and can be used to make sure treatment is posted to accounts properly by the end of day.
We don’t have downloadable form capabilities on our website so we scan in the completed forms and then shred them.

Here are some reasons to switch to paperless:

1. There is a high risk of PHI (protected health information) in paper form lying on the business desk or visible in the treatment rooms where other patients, contractors or sales people have access.

2. Patients have more confidence in paperless practices because they too know their PHI is more secure and the information is encrypted for their protection.

3. PHI is on a need-to-know basis in your practice. In paper form, anyone can have access to it. This can make patients think twice about the security of your practice.

4. Shredding is not always done on a timely basis and I have witnessed stacks of papers on top of shredders awaiting someone with spare time to shred. Also, many shredders being used are not cross shredders, so someone who wants to steal will not be deterred by a cheap shredder.

5. A secure email is much safer than a fax machine. You can sign up for eFax as an alternative to the non-compliant old fax machines.  

6. PHI entered directly to an iPad or tablet is password protected.

7. You don’t have to worry about storage or losing paper records if digital records are backed up to a secure and HIPAA compliant location. 

8. Doing statements electronically saves you between $2.50 and $5.00 each statement.  E-statements cost about 79¢ each to send through your provider.

9. You can offer to email statements of treatment and receipts instead of printing them.  Many businesses now offer this service because it is driven by customer demands.

According to an article written for DrBicuspid in August 2016 by Lindy Benton, CEO of Vyne, “a conventional dental office uses an average of 10,000 sheets of paper every year just to populate paper charts—not including the file folders themselves. Printing the billing or “walkout” statements for patients generates an average of 50 sheets of paper a day or another 10,000 pieces of paper a year.”

For many practices, eliminating paper entirely can be contrary to patient/customer service because many patients still want paper. But technology can save money with claim attachments, which is patient friendly because it speeds up the processing time for claims payment. It has been estimated that without claim processing technology, it costs the dental practice about $11.00 per paper claim (including labor, supplies and mailing costs).

HIPAA violations have the potential to become large problems if it is determined the practice has been careless in taking the necessary precautions. The chances of an audit are increasing, but taking a few steps to safeguard your PHI electronically, by restricting information to a need-to-know basis and making sure paperwork and files are contained, can drastically minimize the risk.

Want to learn more about running a profitable and efficient dental practice? Call McKenzie Management today for advanced business training and consulting services for better practice management.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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